1 – The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

Cover of "The Last Kingdom"Cover of "The Last Kingdom"New cover of "The Last Kingdom"

Synopsis: The Last Kingdom is the first romance in a series that will tell the story of Alfred the Great and his descendents. Here, Cornwell rebuilds the saga of the monarch who freed the British territory from the fury of the Vikings. Through the eyes of the orphan Uhtred, who at age 9 became a slave to the warriors of the north, there comes a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love, and desperate heroism. Born into aristocracy in Northumbria of the 9th century, Uhtred is captured and adopted by a Dane. On the frozen planes of the north, he learns the Viking way of life. However, his destiny is inextricably connected to Alfred, King of Wessex, and to the struggles between the British and the Danish, the Christians and the pagans.

This review was updated on July 2015.

A few words to define this book? Vengeance, betrayal, shield walls. That is what you will find in the narrative, and I’m sure it will make you fall in love with this series.I bought the Saxon Stories just from reading the synopsis and look at the covers, which are gorgeous and have a “seductive” war scenario. Stalling aside, let’s get to work.

Uhtred is a Saxon boy born in Northumbria, to the north of the England as we know it today, and at 10 he is orphaned due to an attack from the Danish to the region close to his homeland, Bebbanburg. What completely changes Uhtred’s fate is the fact that he is captured in this attack and starts being raised as a Dane himself by Earl Ragnar, and very charismatic chief and also an excellent warrior, who since an early age teaches him the art of battle.Viking-Battle-by-Habjan81

The book, for the most part, shows us the story from Uhtred’s point of view among the Danish, as it is with them that he grows up and realizes their veneration for war from the moment they set foot on the world. Even liking the Danish way of life and culture, Uhtred never forgets Bebbanburg, because it is that way that his heart points to, it is there that his family’s fortress is and it belongs to him now, although it is out of his reach.

I had learned to hide my soul, or perhaps I was confused. Northumbrian or Danish? What was I? What did I want to be?

Uhtred

From the on, the narrative, always in first person, by the way, begins to portray the conquest of the Danish, who with their fury and courage arrived to the northern shores of England and from then expanded their dominion over the British territory. But what does “The Last Kingdom” mean, Vagner? The last kingdom refers to Wessex, the only British province that has not been conquered by the invaders, even after Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia fell under the control of the Danes. Uhtred learns to fight alongside Ragnar and his warriors, who consider him an important ally and protect him from all the dangers that can hinder his journey.

Vikingship-by-caiomm

A leader leads – said Ragnar – and one cannot ask that men risk their lives if we are not willing to risk it too.

The highlight of this series could not be any other: shield walls. It is amazing the quantity of details the author adds to the war scenes, you will end the reading simply thinking you already know how to kill everyone and are ready for a real battle.

Bernard Cornwell is one of the few authors that is able to turn a street fight into an epic battle between two armies. You will feel right there, lowering your shield to avoid a blow to the ankles while you raise that sword to thrust it into your opponent’s gut.

The jubilation! The joy of the sword. I was dancing with jubilation, the joy bubbling inside me, the joy of the battle of which Ragnar spoke so often, the joy of the warrior. If a man has not known it, he is not a man. That was not a battle, not a carnage per se, only a killing of thieves, but it was my first fight and the gods had moved inside me, had granted my arm speed and my shield strength, and when I danced upon the blood of the dead, I knew I was good. I knew I was more than good. In that moment I could have conquered the world and my only sorrow would be that my friend could not see me, but I thought he might be watching me from Valhalla. I raised Serpent’s Breath to the clouds and shouted his name. I have seen other youths leave the first fight with the same joy and I buried them after the next battle. Youths are idiots, and I was young. But I was good.

Uhtred

Some women also come and go from Uhtred’s life as he grows and his (physiological) needs change. I suggest you pay a lot of attention to these female characters, as they are essencial to understand what the future holds for Uhtred.

Ah, I can’t forget to comment on fate. Yes, fate, the route our life will take. About the three spinners that rule Uhtred’s life and insist on putting him into the deepest plot possible, making him go through difficulties and always ask himself whether he is doing the right thing. Because fate, as Merlin would say in The Warlord Chronicles, is inexorable.

Fate is everything. And now, looking back, I see the pattern of my life’s journey. It started in Bebbanburg and took me south, always south, until I reached the farthest shore of England and could go no further still listening to my language. This was my childhood journey. As an adult I went the other way, always north, taking sword, lance, and axe to clean the way back to where I had begun. Fate.

Uhtred

Honestly, I lack beautiful and true words enough to describe all the love I feel for this series. Just read, then stop by and tell me whether it was worth it or not.

The Saxon Chronicles books are part of an epic story that must be read by all war lovers! The journey of the Saxon warrior Uhtred will take you to betrayals and lies, hatred and revenge, and you can’t be left out.

Wyrd biõ ful ãræd: fate is inexorable.


By Vagner Stefanello. Review from the blog desbravandolivros.blogspot.com.br.

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